Sunday, March 29, 2009

Strangers no longer

As I sat in a Peet's waiting for a friend to meet me for dinner last night, an old gentleman sat down next to me.  We started chatting and then he offered to sing me a song.  So, here I was, on a Friday afternoon in Berkeley, being serenaded by a 70 year old man.  It was the first time I was serenaded, and it was sweet. 

Now, if only I could get someone my own age to serenade me.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Card from

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If this card is not picked up within two weeks, it may be removed.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Yummy to the nth degree

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Special birthday cookies

It was my mom's birthday over the weekend and to celebrate, we went to the Ritz Carlton for their Sunday brunch. Needless to say, it was yummy and decadent and did I mention that it was great?

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Lobster scramble for my mom

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Steak and eggs for my brother and dad (I love how my dad's fork is ready to dive in)

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Loin of lamb for me

I have to admit that the steak was the best. Perfectly cooked, fork tender, and juicy.

Oh, and there were desserts, desserts, and desserts. And a buffet bar with crepes, omelets, sausage, frittata, pastries, smoke salmon, and fresh fruit. I couldn't even look at food for another 8 hours.

Green eggs and purple brococoli

Well, no green eggs, but you start out with this:
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And you get this:
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I have to admit that the purple thing was interesting at first, but after looking at the purple broccoli juice, which is also bright purple, it became less interesting and more of a challenge.

Just because

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I went to the farmer's market to buy flowers for my mom's birthday and walked out with 3 pots of orchids and 3 bouquets of ranunculus. I guess I never do anything just halfheartedly.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Many uses for mint

Here is what I did last night, in hopes of getting rid of the ants:

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Turns out that it works! When I went to work today, there were a handful of ants, trying to make their way through my mint maze, but now, there are none! None!

I don't know if it was my traps or the mint and salt concoction (literally a handful of freshly picked mint leaves, a handful of salt, ground together into a paste) spread over my entire countertop and cupboards.

Yes, it's a mess to clean up, but it may be worth it for a simple, easy, nontoxic ant deterrent! I'm kind of tempted to keep it up for one more day so that it's there for good measure.

And I'm too lazy to clean it up tonight.

Ants, again!

After spread mint all over my cabinets (what a way to first use my mint from my garden - ground up into a paste and plastered over my cabinets, like I'm protecting my hosue from the plague) last night - pictures to come - the ants are back this morning. 
Is it bad that I couldn't bother to get rid of them this morning?  So, they're probably having a field day. 

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Ah, ants!!!  I got home today to a trail of ants. Took my half an hour to clean it up.  Now, as I'm going to bed, I go into my kitchen, and, gasp! another trail of ants - in the same exact place.  How to get rid of them?  I'm going to the hardware store tomorrow and buying all the anti-ants stuff I can. 

Match Day!

Today is Match Day!  Boy, am I glad that it's not me this time around.  On the other hand, it's hard to imagine that it was a year ago that I was sitting in Vietnam, at a hotel computer, with my crutches by my side, and wondering where I was going to spend the next four years of my life. 

Vegetable gardens for everyone!

So, as an extension of my herb garden, I have decided to try my hand at a vegetable garden.  No, I do not actually have any land.  But yes, I have a wonderful south-facing balcony.  Yesterday, after work, I ran to Osh before it closed and got the following: tomato, bush bean, and zucchini plant  I also got some compost, some soil addition, and a tomato cage.  All for $11 buckaroos. 

Now, I just have to get some soil to put into the giant container I got at Target and be on my way.  I'm afraid that my container may be too shallow, but we'll see if it works.  If not, not a big deal. 

On a related note, the First Family has also decided to grow a vegetable garden.  Albeit, they have 1,000 square feet to do so (compared to my 20 square foot balcony).  I will post pictures as soon as I get going.

Just another day... the ED with one guy screaming his head off the the drunk guy next to him complaining, "that guy is crazy."

Sunday, March 15, 2009


My friends and I took a day trip down to Santa Cruz/Capitola yesterday and got inspired by all the beautiful jewelry. We promptly stopped by the bead store on our way back and started beading (after eating, of course).

Here is our pre-beading mania meal:
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And here is our bounty!

Made by Miss K:
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Made by myself:
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Friday, March 13, 2009


And why am I still up?

Must be a realization that I don't have to go to bed early tonight!  (And that I'm working a night shift tomorrow...)

At least I was productive - I cleaned my apartment in preparation for a gold ole fashioned sleepover I'm having on Saturday night.  All that's left to do is vacuum - I figured it wouldn't be very neighborly of myself to do it at 3am.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Broken hearted

My beautiful Meyer Lemon Tree, which is fortunately thriving and not losing any of its leaves (which apparently, if you Google "Meyer Lemon Tree help", you'll find that's a common problem), is going to break my heart.  After losing the last 3 blossoms today (due to the lightest touch of me moving the container), I was broken hearted.  When am I going to get lemons?  After much web (and soul) searching, I found out it might not be for a few years.  Years?!  No one told me that when I bought that tree! 

The good news is that it's growing new shoots, leaves, and even flowers.  That means I'm doing something right, right?

On another heartbreaking note, I realized that my ranunculus needs more water than I previously thought.  I came back from my test today around 3 and my plant was all wilted.  Completely wilted.  Flowers fallen to the side, leaves unable to stand upright.  Sad.  Then I watered it.  And now it's back to life.  Whew, close call.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


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As procrastination (I'm studying for my boards, which I take TOMORROW), I made a big dinner last night. It involved marinating chicken overnight, some quick soba noodles, and some asparagus.

Chicken with Herb Marinade
Serves 3-4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Marinade: hours to days
Cook time: 30 minutes
  • About 1-1 1/2 pounds chicken thighs (my default meat, though if you'd like to use chicken breasts, that would work too - marinades always make the breast turn out really juicy instead of dry).
  • Herbs of your picking. I had fresh rosemary (from my apt complex), fresh oregano (from my herb garden!), and fresh thyme (also from my garden!). Not very much of it, since fresh goes a long way, and I knew that the chicken was going to sit in the marinade for over a day. If you're short on time, go more on the herbs. Or, if you have dry herbs, add more than just a little. In the end, I had only about a teaspoon or two of chopped herbs.
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Teaspoon or two of vinegar.
  • Shallots (or garlic, if you'd like).
  1. Toss all the ingredients, place into a plastic bag. Mix thoroughly and place in refridgerator. Marinade for at least a few hours, up to a day or two.
  2. Line baking pan with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, flip over at the 10 minute mark.
  3. If you'd like, you can put under broiler for a minute or two, to get a char to it.
While the chicken was baking, I washed and prepped some asparagus, sprinkled some season salt and fresh pepper on top, placed in a foil wrapper and placed in the oven to bake along with the chicken.

Soba Noodles with sesame
Prep time and cook time: 5 minutes

  1. Boil soba noodles according to instructions, usually around 3-4 minutes.
  2. Rinse and drain thoroughly.
  3. Toss with a generous amount of sesame oil and sesame seeds (I liked the contrast of the black ones with the white noodles).
In the end, it took me the time of one episode of ER to cook and eat everything. Not too shabby. Now I have some leftover chicken that I can chop up and eat with a quinoa and raisin "salad" that I'm planning on bringing to my boards (no fridge, no microwave required).

Monday, March 9, 2009

Lacking leaders

I'm really sad that the Obama administration, although it is moving ahead with healthcare reform efforts, still hasn't not filled top posts in the Department of Health and Human Services, including a secretary.  Yeah yeah, there were issues of taxes and fame, but hey, we're four months after the election already.

On the other hand, I'm still available (hint, hint).

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Someone stop me

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As motivation for myself to get up earlier today, I said that I would get to the Farmer's Market at 9am (even with the time change!) and give myself an hour to shop, then back to studying for the boards. Albeit, I was a little delayed (got to the market at 9:20), but it was still worth it. I ended up buying not one, but two (yes, two!) new plants. Not just cut flowers. Actually plants. One orchid (which I really shouldn't have bought since my mom just gave me a new orchid last week, but I couldn't help it - how often does one find a beautiful pot of orchids with two strong, beautiful stems?) and one pot of ranunculus (ranunculi?). I need to stop. My balcony is starting to look like one of those crazy lady balconies with plants and plants and plants.

Tall, Dork, and Handsome

I hate to admit it, but I really dig Ugly Betty's boyfriends of late (minus the touchy feely loser musician).  From nerdy Henry (who was on that WB show awhile back and still cute now) to magazine dork Matt.  Where can I find myself one of those?  I guess not sitting on my couch on a Saturday night.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Eating at home, and on the cheap

With our not-so-robust economy and record high unemployment rates, there has been a lot of commentary on how to live on a limited budget.  Speaking from experience (this year being the first year I have ever made enough money to even file for taxes), it is possible (but of course not ideal).

While in college, I lived on $800 a month, to pay my rent (which was more than half that) and everything else except my tuition (thanks Mom and Dad!).  In medical school, I lived on around $13,000 a year (thanks, U.S. Government!) to pay for my rent (which, again, was more than half my monthly "income') and everything else. Even though my budget was limited (and admittedly, not as low as many other students), I managed to live in a major metropolitan area, go shopping on a (more than) regular basis, go out a few times a month, and eat good food. 

The way I was able to do the latter was because I cooked my own meals and shopped either at Berkeley Bowl (in college) or Asian markets (in medical school) - both of which provided fresh produce at great prices.  Because I saved money on eating out less, I was able to splurge a little on what I bought at the grocery store (splurges include being the second cheapest cheese or buying a fresh loaf of bread at the farmer's market).  In the end, I was able to pull together great meals (and dinner parties to boot) on a shoestring budget. 

Of course, one of the biggest hurdles that people identify as to why they don't cook at home is that they don't have time.  I argue that we always have time.  How much time do people spend sitting on the couch watching tv a night (some reports up to 3 hours a night)?  How much time do you spend on the internet, reading the New York Times front page 5 times over?  In the time that it takes for one rerun of Friends, I can put together tonight's dinner (or lunch - I had salmon with miso ginger sauce and rice) and marinate meat for tomorrow's meal (which will cook in another half hour tomorrow night). In the end, I eat cheap and healthy.  I admit, I still go out to eat with friends and such, but you won't catch me getting fast food (at least not more than a handful of times a year, mostly when I'm on a roadtrip).  Granted, it takes a lot of practice and planning, but my point is that it's not impossible. 

Maybe this recession will be good to people's psyche in a sense (the NY Times also has this great article on how recessions can affect a generation), if it encourages people to reflect upon their eating habits and revert back to homecooked, healthier meals. A reporter on CNN just did a report on how he lived on food stamps for a month and not until his last week did he realize that buying fresh vegetables and other ingredients and preparing meals at home would be infinitely cheaper than buying processed and prepared foods. 

I guess this is my little rant on how we all should look on our eating habits and how to improve upon them.  It will be better for our bodies, and our wallets, in the end. 

[Note that this does not mean that I am perfect by any means - I admit to having Lean Cuisines and canned soup in my cupboard.  It's all a matter of proportions, I guess.]


I was watching Ugly Betty today and was hit by a scene between Mark (the gay assistant) and Betty (the main character) that went something like this:

           Mark: Hey, what about that guy?  He's your type - he's tall, dork, and handsome. 

I thought it was brilliant and so succinctly describes my "type."  Hilarious.  Maybe the wine helped in my thinking it was hilarious, but I still think it's funny (and not a drop of wine in me).

To feed my belly and  my need to see a cute boy, I went to have Korean food today at this restaurant where the food is good, but the service is better.  And yes, one of the waiters is tall, dork, and handsome.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Midnight snack

My snack tonight:
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No, I don't usually eat this healthy, but I came upon a bounty of fresh fruit and veggies that I can't help but eat it (sugar snap peas from Costco, strawberries courtesy of my parents, and pineapple I bought at the Chinese market).

The reason why I can eat this as a snack and it not be an involved ordeal: I cut up the pineapple yesterday, I washed and cut the stems off the strawberries two days ago, and the peas are already washed and stringless. And, when I'm looking for something to eat, I open my fridge and see this bounty, instead of opening my cupboard and seeing chips and soda (which I admit I have, but mostly to serve to guests).

Why frozen food isn't all bad

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I'm a big fan of freezing and using my freezer for some great frozen foods. I read this article today and was reminded as to why freezers aren't all bad (they get a bad rap because of frozen processed foods - but if you keep good foods in your freezer, then it's a good freezer!).

While I admit to having a few containers of ice cream and a few Lean Cuisines in there, most of my freezer is good stuff. It's frozen vegetables, chicken stock, homemade wontons, ground turkey, marinated chicken, salmon, minced lemongrass, chiles, pine nuts, and butter. Yeah, I keep all that in my freezer. I'm almost embarassed to put up a picture of my freezer, because it's so not organized as the one in the article. But it's mine. I've come to the realization that it's ok if I don't use everything out of my freezer, as long as I use something out of it (I was running out of room - which is a scary realization when I don't share the freezer with anyone).

Unfortunately, the picture I took was without any reorganization or staging, so all you really see is frozen meat, ice cream, lean cuisines, and butter. I swear, I have healthy food in there!

Ah, too bad

Dr. Sanjay Gupta has decided not to pursue the surgeon general post.  Ah, too bad.  We all know how I felt about it.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Repetition is key

I just realized, as I finish my glass of Bailey's, that I tend to
drink Bailey's when I'm studying for the boards. When I was studying
for step 2 of my boards in medical school, I finished a whole bottle
of Bailey's (granted, it was over a month). I hope I don't repeat
that this time (especially given that I take my boards in a week).

Cocktail time

A patient of mine gave me a cocktail recipe today. When I asked him
about his alcohol use, he responded, "Well, a beer every night and
every now and then, I make myself a bloody Mary. Have you ever had a
Bloody Mary? Well, they're great and easy to make. You know V8
tomato juice? Well, they make a spicy one. Mix that with some vodka
and you have a great drink."

It's sad that I get drink recipes from my alcoholic patients, but I
admit, I'm curious to try it out.

In lieu of a Bloody Mary, I poured myself a glass of Bailey's on the
rocks. I haven't had a drink in awhile and was craving it. And yes,
every now and then, I like to pretend I'm an old white man.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

As seen on TV

I started working in the emergency department this week and it
definitely hasn't been as exciting as you would think an ED would be.
It's actually a lot of psychiatry, which I hated while in medical
school and which I still kinda hate out of medical school.

However, I did have a case which still has me thinking, "Could I have
done things differently?" It was a woman who was a few weeks after
delivering her baby and she came in complaining of bleeding. However,
when I saw her, she had minimal bleeding on exam and I discharged her.
Not 30 minutes later, while she was still in the room (thank goodness
discharges take awhile - at least in this case), she just started
hemorrhaging. Blood everywhere. Pale as a ghost. Blood pressure
dropped. Could I have done something differently? If I had, would it
have been any different? She ended up doing fine and the general
consensus was that it was such an odd presentation, but I still think
back on it.

In reflection, I guess it's good that I still think back on the case.
I hope never to be a doctor that doesn't care about the outcome of her
patients. I want to be able to follow up on my patients, realize how I
could have done things better (sometimes realizing that I may or may
not have done something wrong), and learn from the experience. I've
had several cases this year so far that have been me pause and think
back on what I did and if I could have done things differently.
Thankfully, all outcomes have been good.

In becoming a doctor, I am given the awesome privilege to help people,
but with that comes great responsibility.